The rage against the fats is today being steered by the Keto diet, with celebrities raving all about it and normal people joining the bandwagon. So what is all this fuss really about? It might be one of those terms you’ve always heard but never really understood. So this is your primer on what is a Keto diet:
Keto stands for ketogenic diet, and this eating plan works on a singular principle: reducing your intake of carbs and increasing your fat intake. This ensures that the body is not merely reliant on the carbs that you consume for your energy, but it will slowly begin using the fats stored in your body as your primary source of energy. This process is known as ketosis, and your body enters this state anytime between two to seven days of beginning this routine, varying from person to person.
One of the primary reasons why this diet has picked up over recent times is because of the drastic weight loss that it leads to. The reason behind this: your water weight will drop once you reduce your carb intake, because your body retains fluids to store carbs for energy. And since this not only cuts out carbs but gets your body to burn fat instead for energy, you will also lose a considerable amount of fat in your body. Another added incentive: increasing your fat intake also cuts out your cravings, which means fewer reasons for you to slip up and put on those pounds again.
The main downside of this diet is how people tend to feel when they get started. Once your body goes into ketosis, it gets hit with a slew of symptoms, popularly known as the “keto flu”. These range from tiredness, lightheadedness, mental fog, headaches, to diarrhoea and muscle cramps. These side effects may seem potentially harmful for your body, but they are not because the reason for such a reaction is just that your body is getting used to the tremendous change in your intake of food.
Another important aspect to remember is that the symptoms of keto flu will not last for more than one week, and many people usually don’t give up at this stage because this is the time when they also start seeing their weight fall quite drastically. However, like any other dietary plan, it is always advisable that you consult your general physician or a nutritionist before you put your body through this change, as sometimes people with conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure will not be able to undertake this diet.
A Day in the Life of Keto
To understand what a typical day following the keto diet would be like, let’s take a look at all the meals, including what you would eat on your snack breaks, would be like:
Scrambled eggs cooked in butter: rich in protein and fat, respectively.
Lettuce: rich in protein and various other nutrients such as iron.
Avocado: loaded with healthy fat.
Snack (a mid-morning snack to give you the energy to keep going):
Sunflower seeds OR Macadamia nuts: protein- rich and no carbs.
Spinach salad: full of protein and anti-oxidants.
Grilled salmon: full of nutrients such as Vitamin B, but carb-free.
Celery and/ or bell pepper slices: virtually carb-free, except green bell peppers which have about 2 gm of carbs per serving, as prescribed under a keto diet.
Guacamole: made from avocado; rich in healthy fats and low on carbs.
Grilled shrimp: no carbs food.
Lemon butter sauce: rich in healthy fats and nutrients, with no carbs.
Asparagus: very keto-friendly with a low carb count.
Cravings and Alternatives
When you put your body through a change this big, it is only natural for you to miss a lot of the things that you would have otherwise eaten every day or even your guilty pleasures which are completely out-of-bounds for you now.
For those who need their cup of coffee to wake up to, try coffee with grass-fed butter and MCT oil, which will ensure you also consume some part of your healthy fat requirement daily. For tea lovers, tea is not off the charts. In fact, it is one of the few drinks which you can continue to consume without too many modifications to the recipe. For those who like their tea with milk, you could swap it out for other kinds of milk like almond milk, coconut milk or soy milk; all of these may take time to get used to, but are entirely worth it the array of health benefits they have.
For when you have sweet cravings, there are recipes for almost every normal dessert you can think of: Greek full-fat yogurt, cream cheese or almond flour pancakes, crackers made of flaxseed or chia seeds, mug cakes of various kinds and even lemonade. A very important dietary change is giving up sugar, but sugar alternatives such as stevia are allowed on the Keto, so you never have to worry about a smoothie or coffee without sugar.
Avocado is also a star ingredient with which you can make many drool-worthy foods: a simple salad, an avocado ice-cream, cheesecake, pudding, brownies, and any other thing that you can think of to put it in. Other god-send alternatives include almond flour, which can be used to make any recipe which calls for normal flour.
Indian recipes for this diet include dishes which are more common than you think they are. Chicken in Coconut Curry, Chicken Tikka Masala, Tandoori-Style Chicken Thighs, and Roasted Chicken are all non-vegetarian options. For the vegetarians, the fare includes Cashew Vegetable Korma, Baigan ka Bharta, Cabbage Curry and Spicy Drumsticks.
Is this eating plan worth the effort?
The Keto is one of those diets which have a rational reason for why it works, and it truly does work. An average person on this diet will consume only the minimum calorie requirement per day, which is usually 1500- 1800 calories. Fats and protein take more time to break down, because of which they keep you full for longer. So yes, it is worth a shot if you are looking to lose some pounds in a safe but quick manner.
But everyone’s body metabolism is different, and the Keto flu is real. It is not advisable to begin this diet without medical consultation, and this diet does not mean you don’t have to work out anymore. It is not a quick-fire diet, it also requires effort to burn off the fat, so your best bet is to work out simultaneously. Another word of caution: this diet is not a long-term solution and should not be followed for more than 30 days at a stretch, and should not be repeated in regular intervals. Some carbs are truly good for you, and your health will take a hit in the long-run if you abstain from such essential foods continuously.